Unique fundraiser planned to help renovate Victoria's Salvation Army

The kitchen in the Salvation Army ARC in Victoria is pictured. The facility is undergoing renovations, but community group HeroWork needs more funding for the project: (CTV News)

Sean Rankin oversees the preparation of 15,000 meals per month at the Salvation Army in downtown Victoria. On Monday, he was helping to completely rip out its kitchen.

“We are getting all brand-new equipment,” said Rankin, food service director at the Salvation Army.

It’s a renovation valued at $1.1-million, but because non-profit group HeroWork has stepped in, that cost has been drastically reduced by up to 50 per cent.

“When we first partner with a charity they pay us a percentage of fair-market value,“ said Trevor Botkin, executive director of HeroWork Victoria. “That money goes to HeroWork operations.”

HeroWork then takes that money, negotiates with suppliers, and works to find the best deals on materials. Almost all of the labour is donated by their partners in the trades.

“They’re truly living up to their name,” said Sheldon Feener, executive director of the Salvation Army Victoria ARC. “I think what they are doing in that short time is truly hero work.”

Work on the much-needed renovations is expected to complete by June 19.

Not only will the Salvation Army be getting a new kitchen, but its men’s lounge will also get a full facelift. Emergency shelter space will be expanded from a capacity of eight to 20 and the rooftop patio will be getting a major upgrade.

“It’s going to increase our capacity and it’s going to allow us to serve better,” said Feener. “It’s going to allow us to provide so much more dignity to the guys.”

But due to pandemic pricing and the size and scope of the project, HeroWork still needs to do some fundraising.

That's why Botkin is planning on doing some creative fundraising.

“I’m going to live for 36 hours in a bucket lift, 65-feet above the street level,” said Botkin.

This Friday, Botkin is going to live in a bucket lift, in the parking lot of Dodd's Furniture in Victoria with the goal of raising $36,000 in 36 hours.

“It’s really come full circle for me,” he told CTV News on Monday.

The executive director of the non-profit has now been sober for just over two years. This new chapter in his life comes after dealing with years of addiction challenges. That is why this project means so much to him.

“It’s inspiring. This building is just wall-to-wall full of hope,” said Botkin. “Men that think that, 'No,' they can turn their lives around and are willing to do the work (come here).”

“You can’t be around more inspiring people.”

Botkin knows firsthand the benefits of organizations like the Salvation Army. It’s organizations like that that helped him turn his life around.

Botkin will begin his 36-hour journey of living in a bucket lift beginning at 6 a.m. on April 16. He's scheduled to come down again at 6 p.m. on April 17.

If you would like to help Botkin and the people at HeroWork reach their goal, you can go to their website here to donate. Or, you can swing by Dodd's Furniture over the weekend and make a physically distanced donation in person.